Wide-eyed Wonder: an artist's musings on three-dimensional vision

Some are color blind. I am stereo blind.

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My Frustrating Friday …

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Driving in to my landscaping job, I went to my usual stress-free parking spot (a small gravel parking area not also inhabited by large trucks and heavy equipment) and found a coworker had parked his small car at an enormous angle, leaving me a tight spot. I didn’t know just how tight until I pulled in and couldn’t open my door … enough. I should have just backed out and gone to the other gravel area with the big trucks and the other guys milling about everywhere, but that was even more stressful: aka. the spectre of possible public humiliation to ramp up my nervousness. So I pulled forward, thinking, “If I clip his mirror, it will fold and not be harmed (like at the ATM machine.)” Wrongo! My stubborn mirror popped his mirror’s outer cover and another clear piece that covered a light.

After putting the pieces in his car, I found and told him about my “poor judgement” and offered buy him a new pieces if anything was truly broke. “That’s ok” he said.

Private humiliation turned semi-private. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough, before the event was shared with the other guys and … my boss.

At a client’s house, I was told I could park at the bottom of his hilly drive. So, in a company truck that has taken me a couple of years to figure out it’s true relative size to it’s surroundings, I pulled down and realized I was in deep trouble. There was no room to turn around, meaning I would have to back up a steep curved drive when I finished.

Fortunately the client came out. “You can back up on the lawn to turn around.” He said. Seeing my obvious jubilation, he made a comment about women not liking to back up as much as men. “It’s not that,” I say “It’s just that I can’t see 3D.” He was doubtful, but as we talked more about my stereo blindness, he admitted he does pencil push-ups to help his eyes team after cataract surgery!

Upon returning to the scene of my crime at base three hours and four jobs later, I observed that my co-worker had popped the cover back on his mirror and moved his car, as far away as possible, from mine. I noticed that the small clear light cover on the mirror extended beyond the black band encircling his mirror. My inability to see 3D failed to pick up on this important 3/4” fact.

After work, while fixing lunch, I manage to clip my ring finger, just below the nail, as I glided a plate from point A on the high counter to point B on the low counter, knocking over a glass bowl of egg salad. I got a nice blood blister on my finger in addition to my bruised ego.

Vision exercises at 5pm before dinner provided the usual impasse where I can’t see the Brock string center bead clearly at any distance over 12” … this has been going on for weeks.

I could use a breakthrough.

But instead of continuing to feel sorry for myself, I want to share about Atticus. Kids in schools everywhere need a far more important breakthrough, especially when their needless suffering is way more severe than my own ever has been. Give a listen to Atticus’ appeal for visual accommodations before the Board of Education.

The cherry of top of this video is the last comment by a School Board Member: “Atticus, I want to you know I have the same thing, and I really understand how you feel.” Even if she has a less severe variation of Binocular Vision Disorder (or Insufficiency), she gets it!

The Baltimore Sun has just reported Atticus’ appeal, and his Mom’s advocacy work to implement visual accomodation compliance to Maryland law for those struggling with Binocular Vision Insufficiency in Maryland schools.

Visual system deficiencies are far more common than folks realize. There’s always more to vision than seeing 20/20.

Slowly, very slowly, the world is beginning to see.

Written by Lynda Rimke

September 26, 2016 at 7:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Playing At Last

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It’s been five years since my BRAO and two years since choosing to keep the same base-right prism for my second set of glasses. At that office visit with my Developmental Optometrist, I could not walk a straight line with the prism, with more prism or without prism. I simply went with the same strength based on my own observations here.

From time to time, I have put on my red-green glasses, and the amount of red I have seen clearly shows me that I still use my half blind right eye with my left by default as I described here.

But I have not done anything in the way of Vision Therapy. That is about to change.

This spring I began to fervently wish, once again, for NO prism other than something to help my half-blind right eye: the kind of prism that was used in an office visit just after my BRAO in 2011 to help me see the Brock string a little better.

My fervor deepened into what felt like rebellion:

  • I wanted to “take off the training wheels” by going back to NO prism.
  • I wanted to take ownership for what was wrong in my head.
  • I wanted to work on my posture to align with true center with the balance board, yoga  exercises and massage therapy
  • I wanted to revisit the Brock String, hang on to that “X” that marks my true center with BOTH eyes, and push it further.

This June, I got an eye exam from another optometrist who had no objections to going without base-right prism. He prescribed new progressive glasses, with a bit more magnification for reading and NO prism. Furthermore, he was willing to work with me to possibly prescribe a stick-on prism so that I can experiment with the Brock string. I have an appointment to assess what amount of prism, if any, would be helpful on July 19 and to discuss my vision goals. I get to bring in my Brock String! I am as excited as a kid in a candy shop at the thought of having possible access to a few new Bernell toys to play with.

Today, after five years, I got out my Brock String, now slightly yellowed, and tied one end to a doorknob and checked my fusional area in the hallway. There is no denying I still have a fusional area! Just as before, I could line up the “X” the string images from each eye make around the yellow bead (this time at 12”)

How my New Brock String appears

How my Brock String appeared in April 2011

But, instead of seeing the string disappear behind the bead due to the blind area in my right retina, I could see some string, flickering in an out! A full “X” image! Furthermore, if I looked at the “X” around the yellow bead AND the red bead that was 12” behind it (the big picture?) I could easily see and hold the image of those two red beads in back!

160627brock

How my Brock String looked today

Resurrection, unburying my desire, has been a long process of facing my very deep personal hang ups and fears, and moving back to that place of risk-taking.

But I am doing it!

Written by Lynda Rimke

June 27, 2016 at 3:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Can 3D Movies Be Therapeutic?

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The “depth script” … some are more life-like than others. Still sorry I missed “Hugo” …

The VisionHelp Blog

Hugo-3d-3dguy-al

The concept of using S3D movies therapeutically was advanced by Bruce Bridgeman, a PhD from California, who experienced a stereoscopic awakening, as originally detailed in this CNN coverage last year.  This month’s issue of Optometry and Vision Science has a great article authored by Dr. Bridgeman on his personal experiences.  Although because of copyright laws I can only provide you with the abstract, I’d strongly encourage you to obtain the entire article.  It is a very insightful and delightful read because of Dr. Bridgeman’s personal involvement in vision research related to prism adaptation and other key aspects of binocular vision research.

Dr. Bridgeman gives some advantages of using S3D movies as therapy.  They include continuous motion images within very natural viewing scenes in a complex field.  Now before we get carried away about substituting S3D movies for optometric vision therapy, let’s realize that this particularly movie represents the creme-de-la-creme…

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Written by Lynda Rimke

June 10, 2014 at 4:10 pm

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Connecting More Dots In Strabismus

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I just introduced myself as strabismic to a perfect stranger on Wednesday. As Greg fetched an end table in the store for me, and offered an additional discount for the floor model, I noticed a strong turn-in on his right eye. I told him I was also strabismic and asked if he alternates use of his eyes. Both eyes lit up and he cheerfully reported “No— I can barely see out of this eye.”

He said it never used to bother him, but lately he was considering surgery if he could even get enough money together. I told him to hold off and consider vision therapy and gave him my blog address where he can connect to Strabby, who has improved her vision in her lazy eye.

Added bonus: this week’s article by Dr. Press about creating more synergy with vision therapy before and after possible strabismus surgery!

The VisionHelp Blog

yes-no Is strabismus surgery a cosmetic procedure?  The simple answer, believe it or not, can be yes, no, or maybe.  Let’s begin by connecting more of the dots that we put down on paper in our previous blog regarding strabismus as a head-to-toe problem .  It has become clear over the past few years that the deficits involved in strabismus extend well beyond misaligned eyes, evident by scrolling through the many blog posts in which we’ve addressed these issues.  Is it reasonable to consider strabismus surgery as more than a cosmetic procedure?

Burton Kushner is a pediatric ophthalmologist in Wisconsin who has written a great deal on this subject.  In particular he has addressed the topic regarding adults, who have the disposable income and life perspective on making an elective decision about undergoing strabismus surgery.  What prompts us to think about this more is Dr. Kushner’s article in the May issue…

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Written by Lynda Rimke

April 25, 2014 at 10:17 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Shuffle Foot!

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In the last year that I’ve worn base-right prism I wasn’t completely sure if it made any difference. Until my glasses broke on Saturday.

The first thing I noticed was my left foot resumed it’s turn out. Then my left hip joint started clicking when I walked. Then it became apparent, very subtly so, that my head is pretty much turned left just a bit. All. The. Time. Which stretches the right side of my neck. In a previous post (many moons ago) I called the phenomenon “my 11 o’clock nose.”

This is the opposite of my initial visceral response exiting my Developmental Optometrist’s office the day I got the new lenses. As I stepped outside and headed to the car, I felt a corrective “shove” from the left. “Oh wow,” I thought “That’s where the car is!” Interesting.

My response when my doctor first put the prism on in her office and had me walk was interesting as well. “Oh wow, THIS is what a smooth gait feels like!” The very same traverse across the office just before felt like a horrible weaving sort of gait in comparison to my princess walk with the lenses.

In grad school, a fellow student from Taiwan had a pet name for me: “Shuffle-foot.” (Say it in your head with a Taiwanese accent: shuffle fOOOOOOOt!) I had never noticed what the long polished hallways of academia made obvious: I drag my feet. All. The. Time.

It took me about three months to adjust to the prism and only 3 days to regress to my life-long “normal.”

Tomorrow’s task: get out the super glue and try to put my glasses frame in temporary working order, and call for an eye-exam.

Although it was fun to dig out older glasses and compare, I was completely lost with my old progressive lenses, which I tried out first. Things looked ok and I was liking them better than the bifocals I’ve been using with the prism, perhaps because I didn’t have to suppress the lower part of my visual field when walking. Then I went to make a smoothie and poured the frozen blueberries from the bag, not into the blender, but onto the counter just to the right of it! (Which was totally weird, as this was also a shove from the left. Maybe residual?)

Next pair to dust off (since I didn’t trust myself with the progressives) were my glasses of 10 years ago, before I became presbyopic and was merely myopic. I am enjoying the clarity of just having distance vision and could probably get by with this script, except for that danged left foot way of walking.Image

Prism is like training wheels that never come off. I shall remain a prismer … it’s either that or the ball and chain of “shuffle foot.”Image

Written by Lynda Rimke

February 27, 2014 at 11:17 pm

New online brain map aides visual system research

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One of the factors for developing strabismus as an infant is whether other family members have the disorder. There often is a genetic connection in patient family history.

A new online atlas of the human brain is now available to researchers and anyone else with an internet connection. The visual cortex is being linked to the presence of specific genes here: http://www.brain-map.org/

An article in yesterday’s Wall St. Journal explains

A project of the Seattle-based Allen Institute for Brain Science, the online atlas offers researchers a powerful new tool to understand where and how genes are at work in the brain. That could help them find new clues to conditions rooted in the brain, such as Alzheimer’s disease, autism and mental-health disorders like depression.

In these two normal male brains, the connection between normal vision development and any genes that have been mapped can be more deeply explored. As more human brains are donated to the atlas for mapping, one day I would imagine a brain representing 4% of the population with strabismus will be donated, researched and mapped.

When I visited the site and searched for “visual cortex” a data list from two donors appeared. One link to an 8 year old boy showed a list of genes found in his right visual cortex with a link to the related gene symbols and name, ENC1 or ectodermal-neural cortex 1. This link goes to a page which has links to additional research on ENC1.

The second interesting link is from the brain-slice image, which takes you to a page with all the slices, and the visual cortex areas are labeled. One can zoom in on any of the images on the right and even see the cells.

The Allen Institute online brain map is breaking ground, with potential for further research into genetic connections for strabismus and stereo blindness.

Until now, researchers have been hard-pressed to link symptoms of the diseases they study to the biochemistry of genes that might be responsible for them. [1]

Written by Lynda Rimke

April 16, 2011 at 10:26 am

Fun with Orthoptics

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I started orthoptics or vision therapy exercises just after posting about the matrix in my head about a month ago, when I felt my brain was over-riding the new, wider way of seeing I had been experiencing from the bi-nasal occluded glasses.

I am happy to report the eye exercises are contributing to a wider peripheral field again. I am definitely not bumping into doorways, furniture and counter-tops on a daily basis, as I was before wearing the glasses. So the glasses and the exercises are re-programming my peripheral vision to a wider field that seems to stay with me throughout the day.

In fact, when I drew what I saw through my glasses back in November for my post on “The Frame Game”, I was straining to see beyond the lens area to sketch what was in the edges of the frame while looking straight ahead. No more. I am easily seeing my glasses frame and stem pieces as I type!

vision therapy orthoptics: fusion

After touching the bridge of my nose during the "eye control" circuit, I pull Mr. Bird out to my fusional area

I credit this to daily eye control, smooth pursuit and peripheral vision building:

Eye control is simply following a finger or my feathered friend Mr. Bird around the bony perimeter of my eye sockets: brow, outside edge, center cheekbone and bridge of nose. I look pretty funny doing it, but this is the yoga stretch of eye exercises. My left eye now tracks as fluidly and smoothly as my right. Well worth 3-5 minutes a day!

Thumb Pursuits are an extension of the same. This time my unpatched eye tracks either my thumb or Mr. Bird with my arm fully extended. Mr. Rimke checks that my head is centered on my body and remains stationary. Then he asks me random questions while I maintain focus on Mr. Bird and keep the things in the room behind flowing in motion parallax. I should work each eye for 3-5 minutes.

The Nielson Chart is a new favorite. When I first started this exercise, I couldn’t see any of the circle to keep inside. Now I am seeing more and more of the circle from almost all of the plus sign fixation points. I also noticed my circles are near perfect in dim light. This is because peripheral vision increases when the eyes are more dilated. I use both right and left hands 2-3 times for 10-15 minutes.

Vision Therapy Orthoptics Nielson Chart

The Nielson Chart

More smooth pursuits are needed to perform Straw in the Target. I patch an eye and hold a tube out in front of me at various heights and depths with my patched side hand, and use my other hand to smoothly direct a straw towards the tube from the far edge of my peripheral vision to a smooth insertion into the tube. 5 minutes with each eye and different diameter tubes constitutes total workout.

I have also been given two motor control exercises which I am going to pursue more aggressively after another week or two of trigger point shoulder therapy to unlock and heal the muscles surrounding my rotator cuff. (Note: this is my idea, not my vision therapist’s.) Right now the Randolph Shuffle and Angels in the Snow are a bit too painful. Last week, I did master the shuffle sequence and can change it on demand.

I will have one more week of additional in office tests and orthoptic exercises, and then we will evaluate at my first 8-week mark. I have less to show for my first 8 weeks because it took us four weeks to find any semblance of a fusional area. I have not begun any fusion exercises, and may not for a few more weeks. I do try and check that hard-won fusional area every now and then, and seem to see lo-ong, “E.T.” fingers in 3D, but little else at this point: not even Mr. Bird!

I must be patient! But, oh— to be a 4 month old learning fusion and convergence naturally, during feeding time!

“The illuminated jet bib feeding system” can be found at http://www.thinkgeek.com/geek-kids/1-3-years/c682/ Check out those flashing lights! Maybe I could keep my nose centered if I wore one of these!